On land, St. Lucia is known for its dense rain forest split by the imposing Pitons and accented by some of the most luxurious resorts in the world. However, like any island in the Caribbean, some of St. Lucia’s most precious sights lie off-shore in the clear, azure-tinted water. While the snorkeling scene doesn’t enjoy the same attention as those in the Bahamas or the Grand Cayman, St. Lucia is home to a wide variety of wondrous locales that are accessible for all snorkeling skill levels.
Why St. Lucia?
There are thousands of great snorkel spots throughout the Caribbean, but why snorkel on St. Lucia? Despite the island’s reputation for safety and luxury, most travelers still pick the Bahamas or Jamaica, both great snorkeling destinations, but are both very crowded locations too.
Aside from thinner crowds, the water temperature around the island never drops below the upper 70s, making for a refreshing, if not warm, experience. With visibility ranging from 15 to 150 feet, it is a fantastic place to see what lurks below the surface. Snorkelers should, however, expect waters to be murkier at snorkel locations closer to the beaches.
What You Will See
The coral reefs off of St. Lucia are teeming with life that comes to flint in an out of the colorful seascape made up of sea fans, finger coral, barrel sponges, and lace orals. At many of the snorkel sites, visitors will have the pleasure of spotting seahorses, angel fish, triggerfish, great barracuda, flying gurnard, trumpet fish, parrot fish, scorpion fish, jacks, puffers, grouper, snapper, golden spotted eels, Moray eels, eagle rays, stingrays.
For those who visit some of the deeper snorkel sites, they may also get a chance to spot lobster and the docile nurse sharks that typically enjoy deeper, cooler waters.
Finally, for those looking to snorkel from March through August, the waters off St. Lucia become a hotspot for leatherback sea turtles, the largest sea turtle in the world. Weighting up to 2,000 pounds, snorkeling besides a leatherback is like snorkeling with a small elephant.
Anse Chastanet Beach
Located just of St. Lucia’s dive center, Anse Chastanet has become the island’s defacto most popular snorkel spot. However, it is not just the steady influx of learners that makes the area so beloved, it is the shallow water reef located just off-shore. Protected by buoys to prevent boats from disturbing the marine life, this marine preserve has earned the nickname “Fairy World” for its vibrant coral reef that is accented by a number of bright fish. Due to the shallow depth of the reef, the Anse Chastanet reef has become a hotspot in the Caribbean for underwater photography.
Anse de Pitons
For the veteran snorkeler that wants the fabulous sights of Anse Chastanet, but with only a fraction of the crowds, the Anse de Pitons is the place to go for scenery that stuns both above and below the water. Located at the base of the two natural mountains that make up the Pitons, the crescent-shaped crater underwater is home to a wide variety of St. Lucia’s native marine life like trumpet fish, parrot fish, moray eels, eagle rays, and scorpion fish. As the dive site is located at the base of the Petit Piton, this snorkel site is particularly deep.
Reduit Beach is the type of place that a group would go when half want to go snorkeling, and the other half want to soak up some sun on the beach. While there are a few small reefs just off the sand, Reduit Beach comes with a few drawbacks. As the area is close to a marina, it gets a fair bit of boat traffic, so going out into deeper water is risky. Jellyfish are also common by the deeper reefs. Staying closer to shore is safer, but being a popular beach for swimmers and families, snorkelers should expect limited visibility.
While it does not feature the abundance of marine life or the sheer popularity of St. Lucia snorkeling hotspots Anse Chastanet or Anse de Pitons, Virgin Cove offers its own unique benefits. The protected and practically untouched Virgin Cove offers 15-foot deep water with clear visibility all the way down. While it lacks a fully developed reef, it does offer a great view of diverse ocean life without much of a challenge, making it perfect for novice-level snorkelers.
Want go where the locals go when they want a day out snorkeling? Anse Cochon is one of those lesser-known sort of locations that might be mentioned in guide books, but certainly isn’t highlighted. The tourists don’t really travel there, but the snorkeling is still great. Some locals would even argue that this is the best snorkeling spot on the island. While the area is by no means small, the water is so densely populated with marine life that is seems much smaller than it is when viewed from underwater. A number of the fish that live around the island enjoy this area for its patch coral and the number of scattered boulders, particularly squid and octopus that like to skitter along the bottom in and out of view.